Civil Discourse Now

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Pleasant Saturday evening on the deck BLASTED by a cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs."

   The first I heard of Black Sabbath was as the punch line for a couple of jokes by Cheech and Chong in 1973. A short time later I had 8-track tapes of "Master of Reality" and something else. Ozzy and the boys played definitive heavy-metal. The tape-deck in the 1962 (or was it a 1961?) Ford Econoline van I drove was hooked up to big speakers in the back, the walls of which were painted flat-black. The speakers were loud, albeit not as loud as the sound systems most teenagers or early-20s types have tooling around. The alternative was to go home, put on headphones, and jam out. Once I was at DePauw, of course, first in the dorm and, later, in the frat, people blasted music---but within certain rules. There were "quiet hours." Weekend evenings were not within those "quiet hours."

   Now I like peace and quiet on Saturday evenings. I understand I live in a city---perhaps even a World Class City, if Mayor Ballard and his buddies get their way and we more frequently finance "events" with tax dollars. )How about another Super Bowl? Did the City include the expense of that great Eastgate Consumer Mall police center in the balance sheet when the City claimed we "made" money on the Super Bowl? I would ask Mayor Ballard, but: (1) he probably has to pack for Cologne, Germany and (2) he does not like less-than-friendly questions, as he demonstrated---emphasis on the first two syllables of "demonstrated"---a couple of weeks ago in The Star.)

   When I moved to Broad Ripple in 1987, the Art Center had movies during the summer. There also was the Art Festival in May, a weekend during which people from Carmel took up any parking spaces they found. I lived in an apartment complex then. When we moved to a house, a few blocks away, we took the matter in stride. We knew the Art Center was there. We knew about the Festival.

   We also knew Broad Ripple fairly well. No longer in my 20s or 30s, I am not up late. We are several blocks from Broad Ripple Avenue---I do not like to call it "the strip," a rather generic term for a "main drag" of an area---and so the noise is somewhat distant. On Friday evenings we can hear the occasional football game called at Park Tudor or BRHS (or is that BRMHS for Broad Ripple Magnet High School?)

   Over the past several years, the number of festivals has increased. There is a brew fest. There also is a storytelling fest. The Wheelhouse festival was held this weekend. I saw an "after party" advertised on the marquee of The Vogue. I also saw signs on College Avenue on Friday that indicated Wheelhouse would be at the Art Center.

   Last night I sat on the deck after a pretty hard day. I had a lot yet to do. Late afternoon we sat reading when loud chords sounded. Electronic music played. There had been several bands play on Saturday evenings this summer at the Art Center. Perhaps this is an indication of my age or the effect on one's nerves of particular frequencies and sounds, but I could handle acoustic guitars accompanied by pianos. Even the electric blues played about a month ago was kind of neat. Last evening pushed me a little over the edge.

   I could not tell what the song was. The electronics and synthesizers and whatever blurred the tune. I caught a couple of lines from the lead vocalist and realized the song was an improvised version or cover of "War Pigs," by Black Sabbath. The volume seemed much greater than the folk groups of earlier in the summer. I think the singer appreciated the reception he received from the audience. He said several times how "fucking happy we are" to play here, and, at one point, admonished those who say "Indianapolis isn't fucking shit." Finally I went inside to take some ibuprofen.

   There are proper venues and times for rock shows. The nature and history of Broad Ripple as a neighborhood are such that we have known music shows to occur. Some have been outside. During the Art Festival bands play. Perhaps they play at a site further back into the woods or something, or this band's amps had dials that go up to "11" or maybe even "12"---go watch "This Is Spinal Tap" for that reference. Whatever the case, a not-for-profit organization seems to be ramping up its business with a stage for performances. That is nice. However, when did the neighborhood have a chance to question this development? Also, I do not like most NFPs. In many instances, they are a means by which money is funneled into the pockets of directors, etc. The cancer center at the University of Texas-Houston is an example of that phenomenon. 

   Broad Ripple always has had a rowdy side, but the music has been confined indoors. I have a feel for what people experience near Broad Ripple Avenue. Outside disturbances, like electronic "War Pigs," were not in the game plan as I understood it. I only can guess what the residents of the condos and the apartment complex in front of the Art Center feel like. Or, perhaps, they are Black Sabbath fans.     

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